Wearing the same suit he wore on the day in 2005 when he was
officially announced as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Derrick Mason wrote
the final chapter in a story that lasted 15 years professionally.
General manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh
accompanied Mason on stage as he officially hung up his cleats as a member of
the Baltimore Ravens in front of an audience that included former teammate Joe
Flacco and current Ravens WR Torrey Smith, who was drafted just months before
Calling the moment “bittersweet”, Mason seemed to be at
peace with the knowledge that his career is over as he begins a new chapter in
his life after football.
The most surprising part of Mason’s retirement was the fact
that he chose to do it as a member of the Ravens instead of as a Tennessee
Titan. Mason was drafteded by Tennessee in the 4th round in 1997.
“My heart was here”, Mason said of Baltimore.
Mason’s final season in the NFL was tough as he was released
by the Ravens, signed by the Jets and subsequently traded to the Houston Texans
where he was released weeks before the season ended.
“The piece of my body I play with the most was still here in
Baltimore,” said Mason – again referring to his heart.
Surprisingly Mason didn’t have any regrets and said he would
do it all over again when it comes to how the 2011 season played out. Mason
said it prepared him for this moment in his life.
Mason was appreciative to the way the fans accepted him and
his family after they had seen him come to town as a member of the Titans – who
were bitter AFC Central division rivals of Baltimore – so often.
“You took a guy and his family who you rooted against and
eight years later, you embraced me,” Mason said.
Even though he created many memories on the field, Mason said
his fondest memories in Baltimore came from his Holiday Helpers charity program
he and his teammates put on during Christmas.
Mason took time at the end of his press conference to thank
former teammate Steve McNair whom he played with both in Tennessee and
Baltimore. Saying that they grew up together in the game of football, and that,
“because of him, my numbers are what they are.”
Mason lamented that he was never able to bring Baltimore its
second Lombardi Trophy.
"I’m sorry that I didn’t get an opportunity –while I
was playing — to bring another Super Bowl to this city."
He also thinks it will happen for Baltimore soon, though. He
praised current Ravens wideouts Smith and Anquan Boldin, and said that ‘I think
[Baltimore is] in good hands. To me Joe Flacco is one of the best quarterbacks
in the league.”
The numbers Mason compiled put him in the argument for the
Hall of Fame but it’s not something he’s extremely focused on. Saying that he
would cry if he got the phone call, Mason also stated that he isn’t going to
keep waiting around for it.
Mason is going to spend time focusing on his family and
helping to coach at the high school level. He is going to work on a
broadcasting career and joked that his smile is something that can’t be passed
Mason retires as the Ravens franchise leader in catches
(471) and receiving yards (5,777) and second to Todd Heap in touchdowns.
Here’s to a happy retirement for Derrick Mason as he begins
to enjoy his life after football. After seeing how calm Mason looked in front
of the media today, it looks like he’s already doing just that.